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On the Side of the Rebel Jesus During my year of spiritual service with Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS), Jesus’s teachings became much more relevant to my life. I began to notice how his message relates to facets of my life that once seemed separate from my spirituality – in particular, my activism. Being introduced to the topic of liberation theology during my time in this program opened up a new window through which I could look at the world.

On Wealth (May 2020)

A Shift in Our Priorities Dear Friends: In March, when the 2020 Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference was postponed, the planning committee was originally going to ask the plenary speakers, of whom I was one, to write something about how the topic of their plenary related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I'd been nearly constantly thinking about that –Earthcare in a time of COVID-19 – anyway.

On Wealth (May 2020)

The Messy Ethics of Giving Why do Quakers soft-pedal the importance of financial giving?  It’s true, our unprogrammed meetings don’t need as much as conventional churches since they typically lack paid staff and large buildings.  But beyond those differences, we seem to be quite uneasy in even bringing up the topic.

On Wealth (May 2020)

A Vision from 2050 Thirty years ago this spring, we faced a global pandemic. Over the course of just a few weeks, all of our schools shut down, restaurants and bars closed, movie theaters went dark, and tens of thousands of businesses were shuttered because of a contagious virus. We watched real-life horror stories: people dying in hospital hallways, morgues beyond capacity, and a health care system completely unequipped to meet the needs of working doctors and nurses. The formal economy tanked.

On Wealth (May 2020)

Racism, Housing, and Cities Eight years ago, I married Jill Shook, a housing justice advocate and Evangelical Christian who loves Jesus and justice. She also loves Quakers and attends Orange Grove Meeting (and the Methodist Church). The more I walk or drive around Pasadena with her, the more I see a side of this city that I never even imagined before. I have come to see the “secret life” of this city – how housing policies determine where and how homes are built and businesses are situated. Cities don’t just happen, they are created and shaped by policy makers with values that are often colored by classism, xenophobia, and racism.

On Secrets (July 2020)

No Map to Sustainability (2) Dear Editor: Friend Bob Langfelder is correct that my article is not a roadmap to get a whole society off fossil fuels. It was not meant to be. No map is necessary before a journey is undertaken. My purpose was to encourage Friends to undertake the journey.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Staying Connected with Our Children The school year is about to begin. Parents and school districts are making decisions about what is best for children in the midst of a pandemic, anxiously weighing health risks against social and mental health benefits, deciding between distance learning and in-person, socially distanced learning. We are facing these same kinds of decisions in our Quaker meetings, as we yearn for social connection and consider our options. As we consider our adult needs and capacities, let’s also remember to ask ourselves: What are we doing to stay connected with our Quaker children and families? How are we attentive to their spiritual needs?

On Teachers (September 2020)

An FCNL Education in Civic Engagement Future generations will likely study the events of this year and scratch their heads. Just considering a global pandemic (and the failure of our leaders to address it) and racial injustice reaching a fever pitch, one can almost envision an entire college course examining the calamities of 2020. Add to that the voter suppression, gun violence, hunger, poverty, wars, and extinctions of plants and animals that were already in play before 2020’s headline events, and it almost sounds like a fiction course.

On Teachers (September 2020)

Get Out of the Way Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon, has a reputation of being one of the “more liberal” Quaker meetings. This is Portland, after all. There’s plenty of action and donations of money in the meeting around climate change, immigrant rights, and many other worthy social-justice causes. But when it comes to action around supporting Black Lives, there seems to be a hesitancy.

On Rules (November 2020)

Stuck in Punxsutawney, Again Whether they are cheerfully sort-of-deist or in-fact, stone-cold, out-and-out Jesus Freaks, Quakers of a certain generation, across the spectrum, agree that the movie Groundhog Day is scripture. Today, with all of us living Groundhog Day all the time during COVID, Friends are advised to share this scripture with newcomers. “Here,” you want to say, “Just watch this on Amazon Prime about three times and see if it doesn’t go all meta on you.” The meta part, of course, is where it turns out we’re all Phil Connors, the protagonist of the movie, who is stuck in an endlessly repeating day and an endlessly repeating script.

On Rules (November 2020)